Climate change, science, and religion…

The news is full of the news about scientists supposedly manipulating statistics in relation to global warming.

In case you missed it, the University of East Anglia has a Climate Research Unit, and some kind soul got hold of hundreds of e-mails that staff had been sending to each other over the last few years, and made them available on t’internet.

Should you be interested enough in to take a journey into banal academia- they are all here.

The timing of this release of information, immediately prior to the Copenhagen conference on climate change which begins next week. I am sure that the intention of whoever leaked the information was to undermine the scientific case for climate change. Most people believe that this is possibly one of the most important conferences in modern history- there is simply so much at stake.

Most of us are simply not that informed. We hear competing scientific voices, and note that a political consensus is gathering speed, and feel periodically concerned for the future. We in the west are guilty about our car use, our power hungry lifestyles and our central heating, but this does not really result in many real changes to our way of life- beyond the odd energy saving bulb.

Then there are the conspiracy theorists- t’internet is full of them. Of how ‘climate change’ is really a tool to spread fear and alarm amongst the populace, and so divert attention from the evil plans of the Cabal that are really running the world according to their own self interests.

We need the scientists. And we need them to be clear, and give clear summaries in words that we can understand. Most scientists are simply not that good at doing this. There is, however, a good summary of the arguments, and the most recent science via the good old BBC- here.

Science is never fully neutral of course. It always has a line of enquiry, influenced by all sorts of things, and all sorts of value based issues. The myth of ‘pure science’ has been killed for most of we post-moderns. It really should be no surprise that the people at East Anglia University were trying to make sure that we saw things from their point of view.

There is also the questions of what motivates those people who lobby on behalf of a skeptical stance on climate change? Whose interests are being served by this lobby? Oil companies? Industries who are reliant on production systems that will no longer be profitable if forced to examine green house gas emissions in detail?

Like many of us, I think that the way of living that we are caught up in is not sustainable. Not just because of its cost to our planet, but also because of its socio-political impact, and the consequences for the worlds poorest people, in the worlds poorest countries- who tend to be the most vulnerable to climate change. We need our leaders to LEAD, and we need to hold them accountable.

These debates have found their way into faith groups.

It is great to see groups like Tear fund and Christian Aid making it clear that they see it part of the life of Christians to look after all of creation.

However, there is another side to Christian’s engagement with this issue. Evangelicals in the USA will tend to be skeptical (unlike Evangelicals in the UK for example.) Check out the ‘We get it’ campaign– which appears to suggest that the policies to reduce global warming will result in more deaths for the worlds poor, in terms of food price rises and energy shortages. Hmmm some interesting twists of logic going on in that one!

The motivation for these fixed positions, which are labelled ‘Biblical’ of course, puzzles me. Is it just that if you call yourself a ‘Conservative Evangelical’ you just naturally do not want anything to change? Is is about self interest- the American way of life? Or is it the association with big business? Or is it a reluctance to trust science- through which all sorts of evils like evolutionary theory and abortion have entered the world?

Perhaps things are starting to change however-

So friends- for the sake of future generations, lets watch and pray about the Copenhagen conference. We have much to gain, but also much to lose…

4 thoughts on “Climate change, science, and religion…

  1. good god chris… have you even read the implications that are about to place… i give it 10 months and you’ll see the implications… what they cant or wont is give clean data… the facts that in the last 10 years we’re cooling.. even with the glaciers… but more importantly who OWNS the water…

  2. Im sorry chis.. even the good old BBC is tainted do you wish the contrary data… bearing mind in mind I was once a proponent

  3. Hi Ali

    Not sure exactly what you are saying above?

    Not sure I want to trade papers/evidence with you either, but I find myself having to at least point out these sources…

    Your point about us cooling is at odds with NASA- http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

    The ‘medieval cooling period’, and the cooling period in the 1970’s (only in the Northern Hemisphere)are both regarded as normal fluctuations, whilst the trend is definitely upwards. That is not contentious- rather the issue is how much it has gone up, and what the cause is.

    As for glaciers- again the picture is complex as I understand it. The effect of climate is a complex system of multi level effects. So whilst the trend is indeed for ice sheets to be retreating and sea levels rising, there are indeed some glaciers that are growing- where there is increased rainfall, falling as snow in the high mountains, and so feeding glaciers. For example in the Hindu Kush- http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/09/060911-growing-glaciers.html

    I think we will always be able to find contrary evidence- but the point I was making above, is that all evidence will always be manipulated and value loaded. what we need is for scientists to present information in ways that we can evaluate it- as summaries of peer review studies for example- which, as I understand it, are almost universally supportive of global trends being upwards.

    My own somewhat uninformed opinion is that plans to change the way we are using resources towards conservation, low impact and greater awareness of our role as guardians of this planet for the future- are good.

    But hey- just my take on things- yours is different, I know…

    Cheers!

    Chris

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